Press Release

BALTIMORE, MD (June 30, 2009) – The Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings has dismissed a legal challenge to Montgomery County’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, which the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) made a final determination to issue on February 18, 2009. The five-year permit, required by the federal Clean Water Act, requires actions to eliminate the negative impacts of polluted stormwater runoff in Montgomery County, which has eight federally listed impaired waterways. The following is a statement from MDE Deputy Secretary Robert Summers:

The dismissal of the legal challenge to Montgomery County’s MS4 stormwater permit means that, absent an appeal, this critical permit to reduce pollution and protect our waterways can move forward. This permit is emblematic of the significant emphasis Maryland must place on controlling stormwater runoff.

Montgomery County’s MS4 permit includes major new provisions requiring restoring an additional 20 percent of impervious surfaces (on top of 10 percent already required, for a total of 30 percent), developing and implementing measurable strategies to reduce trash as part of the County’s commitment to a trash-free Potomac River, and setting pollution limits necessary to meet water quality standards for impaired waters. This permit is one of the most progressive in the country and clearly demonstrates that Montgomery County and Maryland are serious about improving water quality.

This year, Governor O’Malley committed Maryland to more than double our nitrogen removal efforts by 2011, and controlling pollution from stormwater is a key part of that effort – Maryland’s new 2- year milestones include a goal of retrofitting 90,000 acres of existing urban/suburban land with stormwater controls.

In 2008, MDE took action to reduce pollution from stormwater in 3 ways: updating Montgomery County’s municipal stormwater permit, updating regulations per the Stormwater Management Act of 2007, and issuing an updated general construction permit. Urban and suburban runoff account for 16 percent of Maryland’s nitrogen load to the Bay, and MDE estimates that upgrading the State’s MS4 permits, implementing the Stormwater Management Act of 2007 and the new construction general permit will together cut urban stormwater nutrient loads approximately 20 to 30 percent.